My Week: Sam Barnett of Struq

The technology entrepreneur on having no social life, helping other start-ups out and the loneliness of business travel.

by Hannah Prevett
Last Updated: 19 Aug 2013
I get up at 7, eat breakfast then I walk to work. I'm lucky enough to work and live in central London, so I get to the office for 8.40. I'll have a look at everything I need to do to continue growing the business, which is delivers targeted advertising online. Then at 9.15 every morning we have a stand-up meeting – this means that everyone tells the rest of us what they achieved yesterday and what they're going to do today. I take part too. One of the things I believe in is transparency, so it's important that my staff know what I'm doing and also where we're going as a business.

I would say the average age in the team is around 30, but the people who lead the teams are older than that. I'm only 28 and I think that initially there might have been a bit of push-back because of my age, but since then I've been successful in delivering what I said I would so people trust me regardless. If I say we're going to change the advertising industry, they're confident that I'm going to do that because of my track record.

We are a pretty social bunch. Last week we all went out as a company and drank a lot. Lots of the team go out and socialise, but because the hours are so long, my social life suffers. I'd say I go out to have a drink with everybody probably around once every two weeks.

Yesterday was a really busy day. In the morning, an entrepreneur friend David Langer came into the office because he wanted to be part of the stand-up, to see how our goal-driven culture works. Then I had meetings with our bank and our lawyers before meeting Playfish founder, Kieran O'Neil for lunch. We used to work in the same office building when we were both starting out. Then I had a shoot for Wired magazine. It was so painful. We were there for two and a half hours trying to get one shot. That is an extraordinary amount of time to try to get one photo – especially when there's so much stuff that needs to be done. I'm not the greatest fan of having my photo taken; they'll say things like 'just a bit more weight on your right foot please'. It's so tedious.

Then in the evening I had a drink with MessageLabs co-founder Jos White. I do spend quite a lot of time with other entrepreneurs – not just getting drunk and talking nonsense, but to actually try to help each other out. David came in yesterday because he wanted to understand how I've scaled the sales team. And I wanted to pick Jos's brains about how he took MessageLabs to the US. It's all about supporting each other.

 Speaking of the US, depending on a conversation I’ve got to have in half an hour, I’ll probably have to fly to New York on Sunday night to interview people there in order for us to opening up a US office. That's the thing about my role. Opportunities arise and I have to just go for it. I've asked my wife Aaron to come with me. I'm not a great fan of business travelling generally because it's a bit lonesome; I much prefer it if she comes with me.  

Sam Barnett is the founder of Struq, a targeted online ad company.

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